ELYRIA — The Elyria Police Department welcomed three new officers Monday, all of whom have experience working for other departments in Ohio.
The new officers are Gage Hume, Andrew McDuffee and Robert Rieger. The Rev. Jonathan Casbohm from First Baptist Church of Elyria also was sworn in as the department’s chaplain Monday.
All three officers joined the department as lateral transfers from their previous departments and will do several months of field training to learn about the Elyria Police Department and how it operates, patrol operations Capt. Phil Hammonds said.
Hume, an Elyria resident, comes to the Elyria Police Department from the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office, where he served as a deputy and was on the SWAT team.
Rieger previously was a deputy with the neighboring Erie County Sheriff’s Office, while McDuffee comes to Elyria from the Warren Police Department in Trumbull County, northwest of Youngstown.
Mayor Holly Brinda administered the oath of office to Hume, McDuffee and Rieger. She told their family members and gathered friends that their presence at Monday’s ceremony “is very important to the success of these individuals.”
Hammonds called Monday’s ceremony “very important for our new hires and our city.”
He said Elyria keeps its officers busy, with a high volume of calls. Officers have long been the ones who “protect the sheep from the wolves,” Hammonds said.
Law enforcement also increasingly faces challenges from what the FBI has called “the three T’s,” Hammonds said: terrorism, technology and talent.
He said officers must now train for terrorism against schools and public events or to face threats from those who choose “officers as targets.” Also, technology is constantly advancing, so officers must stay on the cutting edge to fight new threats such as cybercrime.
The final challenge is to attract the right kind of talent to law enforcement, as for reasons “people are less likely to go into law enforcement,” Hammonds said.
He said the Elyria Police Department recently considered lowering its standards in order to fill its ranks, but instead raised its standards to entice talented individuals to come work in the city.
“We should not be happy with being good, but should pursue being great,” Hammonds said. “We want to be the best possible department we can be.”
Elyria now has 84 sworn police officers, 18 fewer than its authorized complement of 102. That number has never been reached, though the city came closest in 1998 when it had 100 sworn officers, Police Chief Duane Whitely said earlier this year.
But with two or more officers retiring each year and fewer people considering law enforcement as a career, it has been hard to replace officers as they leave. Also, multiple officers hired in the early 1990s are now becoming retirement-eligible, including two who retired in the last several months.
Five officers joined in January, including three who had yet to go through the Lorain County Community College Police Academy. Two others with prior police experience went immediately into field training.
The deadline to apply for an entry-level position with Elyria police is July 24.
Applications may be picked up in person at the Elyria Police Department, 18 West Ave., or at the Human Resources Department inside City Hall at 131 Court St., Suite 104 and submitted in person, for free. Applicants also may visit the city website at cityofelyria.org, An online application costs $25
“We’re always looking for good candidates, especially if they live in the city of Elyria,” Brinda said.